It was the same sky as on that day.
It spread as infinitely as our desires, deep into the unknown.
The dismal, grey concrete building stood before me in somber silence, as if the world had lost all of its color. The sharp blades of its razor wire fence looked ready to cut through one’s heart without mercy.
Today, I turned seventeen.
Wow, I’ve already lived for seventeen years?
Okay, I’ll take that back. A decent amount of people might protest against such a statement, so I’d just keep it to myself.
My little house was located in a little town called Littleside, North Dakota. I wasn’t sure if people could easily grasp what small towns were like, but if I said that merely nine hundred and sixty people lived there, it should give you a pretty good idea of how small it was.
Still, it did pride itself on owning the world’s largest metal sculpture, which was showcased on what they called the Enchanted Highway. My mom always bragged about it whenever we received visitors from other towns. As a child, I always thought my town was so famous that everybody in the world knew about it—even those living in Mongolia! As soon as I entered adolescence, however, I came to the disappointing realization that this wasn’t true, and, from then on, I was deeply embarrassed whenever my mom proudly talked about our own world’s largest metal sculpture. I didn’t know why she always felt the need to mention it. It was as if there were nothing else to talk about.
Well, that was probably true.
I lived alone now, in a one-thousand square-feet, two-bedroom house with a den. The lot was uselessly oversized. I used to live with my parents and my older brother in this house. The two bedrooms were occupied by my parents and my brother, while the small den was my former room.
That room was absolutely the biggest tragedy of my life—it didn’t even have a door! I hated it when my brother got one of the bedrooms. I’d protested the injustice whenever I could, eternally attempting to have our rooms switched. I was a sixteen-year-old girl. I had a life. I had friends. And, potentially, boys. I needed a bedroom with a door. What need did my brother have for a bedroom? Especially as all he did was play video games in the living room where the TV was.
However, despite my countless protests, I was doomed to the doorless den, and all I could do was hang a curtain for privacy, which, of course, meant nothing.
Actually, as it turned out, I wasn’t doomed to a doorless life forever: I later had doors installed to my den, and, after that, I moved into the master bedroom that my parents once occupied; the whole house was my space now, because they weren’t here anymore. The house I used to complain about being so tiny, now seemed so big. And quiet.
I thought about getting a pet every once in a while. But I wouldn’t, unless I knew, with a hundred percent confidence, that I could take good care of it. I was studying to go to Stanford, and all of my focus was on earning a decent score on the SATs. Getting a pet would have taken up a great deal of my time.
I had more than enough money to support myself for the rest of my entire life. I wouldn’t even need a job after graduation. But that life wasn’t what I wanted. I was determined to get a PhD from Stanford, and, eventually, become a psychiatrist. That was my goal in life.
I was born to very conservative parents—diligent Catholics who attended church every Sunday. The priest, Father Paul, was around Dad’s age, and we knew his whole life story (well, in a town with a total population of nine-hundred and sixty, there wasn’t much left to know about each other). Some might think that was nice: Knowing everybody in the whole town was like having one big family—so relaxing; helping each other, laughing together, and no need to worry about anything… Well, I could tell you this: try living in one, then you’ll know what it’s really like! Example: imagine you did something bad, or wrong. Once you committed it, that was it: the whole town would know about it by the next morning. It was far from being a relaxing environment. It was nerve-racking. Especially for someone my age.
My mom was a very kind, modest, and soft-spoken lady. She worked as a waitress, at a small restaurant called Nancy’s Diner, adjacent to a gas station. She never took her job lightly, and treated it with the same conscientious approach as if she were Director of Marketing at some big ad agency, always arriving at the diner fifteen minutes before her shift started. She only worked lunches—the nights were reserved for us, that she could always be at home to make us dinner, and we could always eat together.
Apart from Dad. My dad was a trucker. He was away two or three times a month, usually for a week or so, and he wasn’t home very often. When he was, he always helped Mom with the household chores and kept himself busy fixing things. He was as good a husband and father as you could expect, and fairly typical in most ways.
He was quiet, too, and, in this respect, kind of similar to Mom. If anyone adhered to the theory that opposites attract, that wasn’t the case at all for my parents. They, in fact, seemed to thrive on the notion that similars attract. They never fought, and never cursed each other; they were the prime example of a healthy, functional couple.
Growing up alongside my brother, Kyle, however, was tough. I often thought his sole purpose in life was to embarrass me. He was the king of nerds. If he had been completely invisible at school, it would have been better. But no: his nerdiness was so extreme, it made him stand out to the extent that it was sheer torture! His video game addiction, which began as soon as he could speak, had been rewarded by a pair of Coke bottle glasses, which he had needed by the age of ten—they looked like the ones Milton wore in Office Space.
Kyle was obsessed with Candy, an animated character from one of his games. What happened one day shall forever remain the most traumatic event of my life. I’d witnessed him in the middle of you know what, with Candy’s picture in his other hand!
I took a deep breath and approached the prison. Yes, that was where my family now awaited me.
So, what happened to them?
What happened to my kind mother? What happened to my gentle dad? What happened to my geeky brother? How did they suddenly turn into malicious monsters? How did that happen... really…?
Well, it all began on that one day.
Our luckiest day ever…